23 March, 2009
Leading British racing driver and Belgian team mate Jean-Lou Rihon endured a challenging outing in the inauguration of the French V de V Championship, to take a 9th place finish at Jarama at the weekend.
Not only was this the first time they had been to Jarama but also the 4 hour race was the first opportunity for the pair to get behind the wheel in 'race mode' for their new team Norma UK. However they found the car was lacking pace in qualifying, and eventually had to settle for 12th on the grid with a best time of 1min 34.6secs, set by a puzzled Padmore.
Rihon carried out the start of Sunday's race and immediately took the advantage with a stunning move round the outside of three cars on the first corner. A strong performance saw him defend his 9th place for the first 30 minutes before missing his braking point at Portago, taking the Norma M20F for a quick trip across the gravel before rejoining in 15th.
After losing a further place, Padmore stepped in to do his stint and brought the car through the field up to 9th before coming in again to do a quick 'splash and dash' pitstop, rejoining in 13th.
The remaining part of the race saw one competitor drop oil over the racing line, causing chaos before race officials decided to put out the safety car while marshalls spread cement dust.
Once the safety car was in, Padmore jumped on the opportunity of having the cars bunched up nose-to-tail, and clawed his way through the field again to bring the car home in a respectable 9th position, despite having limited visibility from the dust put on the track earlier.
Padmore commented after the race, We're obviously disappointed not to get the result we hoped for, but the first race is the first time any of us get to see how we compare to each other, so rest assured we will be gaining all we can from the weekend.
"The car is coming back to Leicester (home of the Norma UK outfit) on Wednesday so we're going to strip it down to find out why we struggled for pace all weekend and get back to where we should be for Donington."
Nick Padmore will next be out in action on the 18th April at Donington Park. The weekend will see him take his place, again with Norma UK, in the 3 hour Speed Series season opener and also host the second round of the Production BMW Championship where the NPR BMW 320 will be raced by an arrive-and-drive customer.